BOWLING GREEN, Ky. — Anna Caldwell engages her sixth period U.S. history class, teaching them about industrialization. Within this circular-shaped high school, students who sought refuge in Warren County are able to learn English and earn a high school degree.
“The communication barrier lasts for a week or two and then it kind of just breaks down,” Caldwell said.
Caldwell has been teaching at GEO International High School for four years, and came into teaching with hardly any foreign language experience, only speaking Spanish at a high school level.
“I was scared when I came that I would not be able to help them and that I would not be the teacher that they needed. However, when I came here, I realized it wasn’t scary at all,.” Caldwell said.
Many students know very little English on their first day at GEO. There is one English as a Second Language instructor who teaches the students the basics, from numbers to the alphabet — like you would to a kindergartner but at an accelerated speed.
“Using your hands a lot, a lot of translating, a lot of going back and explaining, using pictures. Whatever you need to get that point across,” Caldwell explained.
Caldwell says the diversity of cultural backgrounds has taught her a lot. “Being open to what the students have to say on that stuff is really important because knowing where I don’t know as much about their culture I think is important because they’re the experts.”
The Warren County Public Schools program hopes to give students a safe and welcoming environment where they succeed.